Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What Are YOU Worth?

During the last two decades the concepts of self-worth and self-esteem have exploded onto the landscape of personal development with a flurry of books, courses, experts and opportunities promising to repair, restore and improve them. 

Most people value family, friends and their health. Relationships with family and friends allow people to give and receive love and good health gives them peace. What people really want is peace & love which in turn give them contentment that brings happiness. These are human assets that create highest levels of vibrations within our consciousness. 

And yet there appears to be a conspiracy to confuse! We grow up learning to measure our worth in quantifiable terms such as the amount of money we earn, the size of our home, our position at work or the car we drive; we all seem to learn to build our sense of self-worth and self-esteem around ‘things’.

What we seldom notice is how we sustain these illusions about our self-worth and self-esteem and then, through our behaviors and conversations, pass them on to the next generation. At the heart of almost all these illusions of worth and esteem is one fundamental confusion; we mistake our net-worth for our self-worth and in doing so we don’t realize we are diminishing our value!

Net-worth is material and tangible while our self-worth is non-material and intangible. One is measurable in quantitative terms while the other is only ‘felt’ in qualitative terms. One can be stored and accumulated for a rainy day while the other does not need to be stored. One is known when it is acquired and counted while the other can only be known when it is given away i.e. you can only know your self as a source of love when you give your love away. 

And this is why there can never be an expert in self-worth and self-esteem except your self. Only you know your own value but only in the moment when you give of your self selflessly. And paradoxically that’s the moment when you least need to know and feel any value, any worth. That’s the moment when you are not ‘estimating’ your self.

In fact, if the truth be known, just as you cannot love your self, for love is what you are, so too you cannot estimate your self, you cannot ‘value’ your self. The ascribing of value requires a subject and an object and the self cannot be both a subject and object at the same time. Perhaps this is why no one ever succeeds in restoring their self-worth but only continues in a vain with misinformed attempts to do the impossible. Perhaps this is why the self-esteem and self-worth industries just keep on growing. There is no cure for a disease that ultimately does not exist except the realization of its non-existence!

Question: When you sometimes say, “I really value my self”, what is it that you believe you are valuing? 

Reflection: Why might it be impossible to esteem your self?

Action: Say to three people this week, “I hold you in high esteem”, and then reflect and contemplate on what you really meant.

Adapted from Mike George’s article, “What Are YOU Worth?” © 2010